By Jeremy Hallock
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By Observer Staff
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"The whole process of putting it together was cathartic for me," she says. "I took the breakup of Jawbox very hard, and it felt like a good form of closure. At first we thought about just releasing the Peel Session, but as we brainstormed we came up with more and more stuff until we had ourselves a full-blown compilation. I thought it would be a nice thank-you to our friends and serious fans."
Most of them should be pleased. Save for a few demos and live recordings, all of the band's leftovers have been reheated, repackaged just in time for Christmas. Once they took a look at what they had, the members of the band didn't have much trouble coming up with a track listing; the songs on the album practically chose themselves.
Fortunately, some of the music the band recorded during its 1996 appearance at the HFStival were among them. For the first time, other than an import-only live album released in Germany in 1995, the band's intense live show has been documented, preserved for fans who never had a chance to see the band in concert. The sound is better than most studio recordings the band made, beautifully capturing Robbins and Barbot's guitar sparring and the pummeling rhythms constructed by Coletta and Barocas. Appearing on the main stage at the annual radio festival hosted by D.C. alternative radio station WHFS, alongside such alternarock staples as Everclear and the Foo Fighters, Jawbox played at RFK Stadium in front of 60,000 hometown fans who couldn't have cared less. It wasn't exactly the same setting the band was used to. While the conditions may not have been optimal, the band decided to use the recording anyway.
"We were the token local band on the big stage," Coletta says. "We used that recording because they had a swanky 24-track board to tape all the bands. It came out sounding very good and didn't cost us a dime. Lots of people hadn't a clue who we were, but that didn't stop them from yelling and throwing beach balls around during our set."
Another highlight of the compilation is the band's eclectic assortment of covers, ranging from the pop-punk sound of the Buzzcocks ("Airwaves Dream") to the sludge-covered precision of Tar ("Static"). The band treats every song--including covers of The Cure, R.E.M., the Big Boys, Minor Threat--as though it were a Jawbox original, even roasting the Cole Porter chestnut "I've Got You Under My Skin" until it ignites with the band's own intensity. Coletta is also partial to the Porter song, which originally appeared on the Frank Sinatra tribute Chairman of the Board. "Good, slow burn," she says.
For now, My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidents is the last time Coletta will appear on a record. While Robbins and Barbot jumped right back into another band--guys always do seem quick to rebound after breakups--Coletta is taking her time, content with running DeSoto and putting out records by bands she enjoys. But after jamming with Barbot recently, she realized music isn't completely out of her system. The experience left her believing she'll be in a band again someday, just not anytime soon. And don't expect My Scrapbook to be the first in a series, she says. After months of digging through it, the cupboard is bare.
"There's a few unfinished demos rattling around, but they'll never see the light of day," she says. "Some stuff was a no-brainer, like the Peel Session and the unreleased tracks. We chose the rest of the music based on what we really loved throughout the years. It was never meant to be a complete collection of rarities. It's stuff we're proud of." They should be.